Testing on live primates could soon be carried out in Ireland for the first time, according to the Irish Anti-Vivisection Society.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) recently sought tenders for a feasibility study into the development of a national testing lab that would use large animals for research.
It was acting on behalf of CURAM, a national research centre for medical devices based at NUI Galway and funded by Science Foundation Ireland.
Tender documents claim that there has been an increase in the requirement for “large animal medical device trials”.
However, the Irish Anti-Vivisection Society (IAVS) described proposals for a national animal-testing centre as a “moral outrage”.
They claim the government is failing to meet its obligations under EU law to develop alternatives to animal testing.
IAVS also claimed that such a facility could see the introduction of experimentation on live monkeys and apes for the first time in Ireland.
“[CURAM’s] interest in devices for diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases points to the unprecedented use of non-human primates in Irish labs,” said an IAVS spokesperson.
“The experiments at the proposed lab are likely to include inducing debilitating and lethal diseases in the animals, as well as testing devices for their toxicological and bio-compatibility properties.
“Primate models of neurodegenerative diseases are amongst the most severe due to the extreme physical and psychological suffering endured by the damaged monkeys,” they added.
A spokesperson for the HSE said that the agency is performing the function of a “central purchasing body” on behalf of CURAM, which they described as “another public body”.
Neither CURAM nor NUI Galway responded to queries.